Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Taken (2008)

I have watched this movie twice now and it finally hits me that it’s an action flick.  I know that’s stupid to admit right?  I remembered when I first watched it I kept thinking it’s more of a thriller.  Everyone’s brain lags from time to time so I’ll consider myself in fair shape.  Once again Liam Neeson lifts up a film that otherwise might suffer had an actor with less ability played it.

Where's my horse daddy?!  AHH!!
               A retired CIA agent (Liam Neeson), Bryan Mills, moves closer to his daughter (Kim) to make up for years of lost time.  She is 17 so that isn’t too much to cover right?  She is spoiled and lives with her mother (Famke Janseen), Lenore and rich step-father Stuart.  Bryan knows she loves to sing so he dishes out the cash to buy her a top of the line karaoke machine.  It’s her birthday gift as he brings it to the rich man Stuart’s mansion.  There is a huge party going on and she opens her dad’s gift right away.  She is happy with it as her mother disapproves of it.  Kim whispers to her dad that she still wants to be a singer.  As things are going well for Bryan, the rich jerk Stuart comes prancing onto the scene on a horse.  Kim goes spoiled kid bonkers and runs to it saying gimme, gimme practically.  It’s shameful but every rich daughter’s fantasy is to have a horse isn’t it?  Bryan holds it together even though Stuart decided to show him up.

Even pop divas are drawn to Neeson.
                Bryan after getting home gets surprised by some old co-workers.  They have a dinner while coaxing Bryan to join them for a job to protect a singer named Sheerah.  Didn’t she have her own show in the 1980’s?  No, I’m thinking of someone else.  He gives in as he is obviously bored being recently retired.  It also shows that he must be quite an agent to still be sought out.  At the concert Bryan gets close bodyguard detail on Sheerah and “Neeson” evokes that charisma of his to ask her about helping his daughter make it as a singer.  What a great father, he put himself out for instant embarrassment.  She declines him saying it’s not worth it basically.  After the concert a psycho guy with a knife tries to attack Sheerah but Bryan brutally and quickly drops him.  Sheerah is eternally grateful then decides to help him with a favor for his daughter.  Did he set that up?  Did he put a random guy there to tell to attack in hopes to get such a reward?  Is that too elaborating an idea?  I’d say no but it’s fun to think about.  Bryan also got a nice pay day for his one night of work.

You're not going to Paris!
                The following day Bryan has lunch with Kim but Lenore comes along.  He doesn’t like that as he only wanted to see his daughter, not his ex.  Lenore’s plan involves forcing Bryan to sign off on Kim going to Paris with a friend.  He doesn’t like that idea as a protective father who is more familiar with the world.  He offers to go along but that doesn’t bode well.  Kim is devastated and has a spoiled brat tantrum then storms off.  Will someone spank that girl?  She needs to learn you don’t always get what you want in life.  Lenore and Bryan argue a bit then later in the day he visits the mansion to allow Kim to go.  He explains rules to her on what she must do when she’s there like call him every night for instance.  Will she do that?  She just got her way what do you think a spoiled girl would do?  He drives her to the airport in agreement as well.  He also gets the last words with Lenore stating we could have avoided this if she told him ahead of time.

Do you like my accent?  It's all I've got going for me.
                At the airport Bryan discovers Kim is following the U2 band tour in Europe.  He really doesn’t like that and reluctantly let’s her go.  He takes a final photo of her with his camera before she leaves.  He likes to collect photos of her in an album; it’s a nice character touch for him.  In Paris at the airport Kim and her wild friend Amanda meet a smooth talking man named Peter.  He takes their picture with Kim’s phone and offers to split a taxi with them since it’s so expensive.  What a sincere nice young fellow, I’m sure he will make a strapping husband one day to a beautiful lady.  The girls fall for it primarily Amanda, she must have been on “Girls gone wild” at some point.  Peter informs them of a party later that night and invites them so they accept.  They explain how they’re alone here to make sure they’ll be easy targets.  Can you shut up Amanda?  What an idiot!  Peter leaves and calls his buddies to inform them that two girls are available for the taking.

"I will find you. I will kill you."
                Bryan is a bit unnerved Kim hasn’t called yet but should he be surprised, she doesn’t seem like she would anyway.  He finally reaches her as she notices through a window that Amanda is being abducted.  She panics and her dad tells her to go into the next room and hide.  She goes under a bed when Bryan tells her that she’s going to be TAKEN.  She is scared to death and then gets abruptly pulled out of hiding.  One of her assailants picks up the phone and Bryan tells him all about his skills and to let her go now and there will be no trouble.  If he doesn’t he is told that he will be found and killed.  The man replies with “Good luck.”  Don’t give a man that says something that serious good luck because he probably doesn’t need luck, you’re already dead dude.

"Good luck."  "Good luck."  "Good luck."
                Bryan sent the recording of the phone conversation to one of his buddies for a check on whom these men were.  He did a wise thing and recorded the call when he realized Kim was in deep doo.  Bryan learns that Albanian men sell teenage girls into sexual slavery.  That really motivates him to save her quickly as he is told he has about a 96 hour window to find her before its too late.  He flies out to Paris and investigates the scene of the abduction.  He finds clues as to who Peter is and goes directly after him.  I feel so sorry for Peter, but his worries are soon to be over.  He discovers pervert Petey luring another girl into a taxi.  He beats the living crap out of him in the taxi but gets pulled out by another random ruffian.  He takes that guy down fast then gives chase to Peter who is literally running for his life on the expressway a top a bridge.  Could this be a death scene?  I’m sure they will talk it out, Bryan is old and his running looks a bit awkward at times.  Peter panics and jumps onto a heavily padded semi-truck trailer roof.  Why was it so clearly padded?  Am I the only one who noticed?  CGI that out, ha-ha!  Peter dies as he doesn’t look both ways crossing the street.  Show this to your kids please, I guarantee they will always look after this scene.

Beat down on the perverts!
                Jean-Claude is a French desk junkie that I can’t stand.  I guess it’s just the actor playing his role right.  Apparently Bryan is friends with him from years back and points him in the right direction to find his daughter.  I just don’t like this guy!  He warns Bryan not to cause trouble though, yeah right stupid his daughter is being sold as a sex slave.  From a hooker on a corner, to a thug in a car Bryan eventually gets lead to a sickening whore house at a construction site.  He brutally, brutally kills all types of random men there while saving a single girl who has his daughter’s jacket.  She is all drugged out so at the moment she is of no immediate use.  A terrible vehicle chase follows with terrible camera angles and worse, the horrible quick cut too close-up shots.  I detested that entire scene and it starts in on the action overload this movie inevitably becomes.  How many bullets can Bryan dodge?  They’re using automatics they’re going to hit him.  I know its action, meh.

I like my Marko, extra crispy.
                Jean-Claude talks with Bryan via walkie-talkie and cell phone at a comfortable distance to discuss Bryan heading back to the states.  Bryan insists he will find his daughter and not leave.  He’s on a mission Jean-Claude you should have cuffed him when you had the chance, now he’s a hungry hound looking for dinner.  Bryan took the drugged girl to a hotel to in which he knew the front desk guy.  The girl comes to and explains where Kim was TAKEN.  He goes to the place pretending to be Jean-Claude with an I.D. and everything.  He really has a plan; everyone falls for the fake I.D. trick!  He locates the man who wished him “good luck” and captures him while brutally killing about a dozen random men for good measure.  He takes a look around the place to find many girls all drugged out.  He finds Amanda overdosed lying dead and dirty on a bed.  It’s quite gross what they do to these girls even if they aren’t great people to begin with.  He tortures this guy Marko in a ghetto rigged electric chair by stabbing him with two metal spikes in his knees, ouch, no double ouch!  Marko is a defiant SOB and resist quite a bit at first.  He gets shocked a lot.  He cracks though explaining virgins get sold for top price to the pervert with the smallest wiener and biggest bank account.  Not in those words but I like those better.  Bryan you should be proud she didn’t lose it at such a ripe age.  Bryan after getting what he needed leaves Marko and fries him anyway.  That’s what I’m talking about!  Bryan’s consistency in killing impresses me.
Jean-Claude gets tough.

                Bryan drops by old Jean-Claude’s place to find out what he knows that he feels is being hidden from him.  Jean-Claude attempts to kill Bryan but has no bullets in his gun as Bryan has them in his hands.  It’s not magic but rather Bryan getting to the bathroom “hidden” gun before Jean-Claude secretly did before dinner.  Things get testy fast as Jean-Claude tries to play tough.  Bryan shoots Jean-Claude’s wife in the shoulder demanding where to find his daughter.  Jean-Claude now cracks and reveals Saint-Clair is the man to see.  He pistol whips the shady Jean-Claude and continues his death march through Paris.

Hero shot!
                Bryan locates Kim being sold at a secret e-bay international auction in Saint-Clair’s mansion although he finally gets caught.  Saint-Clair discovers Bryan is the girl’s father but has him to be killed anyway.  He claims its just business and don’t take it personal.  Bryan kills his executioner’s in a solid action sequence, not the best but sound enough.  He catches up to Saint-Clair forcing him to crack by shooting him numerous times in his appendages.  He eventually fills Saint-Clair with the whole clip.  He is a killer man, overkill isn’t in his vocabulary.  The final rescue action sequence is fast, very fast.  Bryan battles onward onto a yacht killing man after man.  He dodges machine gun fire that in no way could be dodged in small quarters.  He has a fight with a super tough random guy before killing the rich man with the small penis.

                The end is weak acting wise and leaves no emotional outpour you might expect.  Bryan returns Kim home and refuses a car ride home with that idiot Stuart.  Yes, stick it to him!  Bryan later takes Kim to Sheerah’s house for personal singing lessons and to watch her old 1980’s show.  It’s an overall satisfying action romp.  It’s brutal and I like to see that from Bryan.  He didn’t show mercy.  All the gunfire that missed him was too unbelievable though; you can’t put him in impossible situations time after time only never to catch a barrage of flying bullets.  I liked watching him figure out how to find Kim capturer’s, as Neeson performs well in those moments.  The action scenes aren’t what he excels at for me at least.  It’s not a bad watch for the action guru’s.

                Rating: 8 of 10

I’ve used my own images for this review and hope you find them suitable.
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  1. Another awesome review, very detailed. i love it

  2. I enjoyed the original Taken movie.  I thought it was very original.  I was surprised that Neeson, a traditional dramatic actor, was able to morph into an action star.  The concept was original – the bad guys picked the wrong guy to mess with.